Monday, October 12, 2009

Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program: Q&A with Lindsey Hodel

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, CRC’s acclaimed Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program provides innovative leadership and management training for executive directors of Colorado nonprofit organizations.

CRC interviewed Lindsey Hodel, class of 2009 participant.

Lindsey Hodel, Organizing Director, Colorado Progressive Coalition
Colorado Progressive Coalition is a statewide, member-driven organization that has engaged communities to advance economic and social justice since 1996. Organized around five program areas: Racial Justice & Civil Rights; Health Care for All; Economic Justice; Statewide Base Building; and Civic Engagement; CPC advocates at the local, state, and national levels on issues that affect people of color, low-income neighborhoods, immigrants, the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community, and young people.

How have you become a better leader as a result of your participation in CRC’s Leadership Program?
The Community Resource Center’s Leadership Program helped me connect to a truly statewide network of nonprofit leaders. Many organizations and programs strive to be representative and inclusive of the entire state, but few actually manage to make that happen. Too often political and state decisions are made in Denver, leaving the rest of the state out of critical policy change and advocacy efforts. I had the chance to meet leaders from Yuma, Hotchkiss, Ouray, Sterling, Steamboat Springs, and most regions in between. I was impressed by the geographic diversity present in the program, and the broad range of experiences, missions, and communities represented.

I have also gained financial management and fundraising expertise that are necessary skills for any nonprofit leader. The program also helped, and in some ways forced, me to slow down, reflect on my strengths and weaknesses, and recognize the unique skills and passions I have to offer. In particular, I am now able to communicate more fully my communication and leadership styles, and find new ways to value my own approach as well as others’. I am leaving the program with a robust and impressive statewide network, a more developed support system, and many lifelong friends.

What specific technical or management skills have you learned and implemented within your organization?
I oversee Colorado Progressive Coalition’s statewide program work, but do not bottom-line budget and fundraising efforts. Because of new skills and knowledge of financial and fundraising skills, I am able to provide much more support to CPC’s Executive Directors and Development Director. I feel I am strong running and implementing programs, and now I carry more confidence (and appreciation!) when managing internal organizational budgets and fundraising. I also possess a new toolbox of awareness and language around communication and leadership styles individuals bring to our organization, and can better facilitate team projects and staff leadership development. Lastly, through developing an awareness of my own strengths and limitations, I have grown much more patient when working in diverse coalitions, managing conflict, and delegating leadership. I have noticed I listen much more actively and have found new ways to assume leadership in a democratic manner.

What was your greatest “take away” from the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center’s Executive Leadership experience?
My greatest takeaway was that even though leadership can often be isolating and lonely, many nonprofit leaders face very similar struggles and challenges. I learned to have the courage to open up to others for help, for guidance, and support. In turn, I believe I have found better ways to offer that support to others as well. I often struggle with being my own worst critic, and not allow myself room to make mistakes and learn from them. The retreat was a much-needed space of support for this process. Finally, I often struggle with moving too fast to appreciate the experience I am gaining, trying to do too much and multi-task, and realized I severely needed more life/work balance if I am going to be a part of a social justice movement for the long haul. At the conclusion of the outdoor retreat, I felt refreshed, healthier, and happier, and realized I needed to work harder on achieving this balance to feel satisfied, and to know I am doing the best work I can possibly do.

What personal insights have you made because of your participation in CRC’s Leadership Program coaching component?
We are just beginning the coaching experience. I am really looking forward to getting the support, encouragement, and fresh ideas that I will need to balance my personal and professional lives in a more healthy way.

Do you have other thoughts or comments you would like to make about your experience?
I represented one of the few advocacy-based nonprofits in the program, and was initially concerned that issues facing service-based groups may not apply to me. What I found was the exact opposite. Being in a room with a completely fresh network and brand new people whom I had never worked with was the best thing I could have asked for. I hope I can continue to foster and build the relationships I gained through this experience, create new alliances, and offer more support to rural communities in Colorado. I learned much about the issues and struggles rural communities in Colorado are facing, and believe I have new insights in bridging the gap between a mostly Denver-based advocacy movement and rural communities who often are the hardest hit by social, economic, and political policies and decisions. I carry a strong vision of building a truly statewide movement that is inclusive of every urban and rural community in the state, and have a vision of those on the front line – nonprofits providing necessary services to rural communities – possessing more political power and influence for change. Because of this vision, I have launched a formalized program within Colorado Progressive Coalition providing Technical Assistance to service providers on nonpartisan civic engagement and advocacy strategies. Service providers have the most trusting relationship with their clients and constituents, and are powerful political forces when that base is mobilized for change.

Would you recommend the Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program to other ED’s across CO? If so, why?
Absolutely! It was sometimes difficult to manage the priority of personal leadership development and just getting the work done day to day. But, I firmly believe the best leaders are those who are reflective, self-critical, and seek self-improvement. Every movement needs leaders, and without passionate and humbled leadership, change is not possible. Being a leader to me is not about being in charge. It’s about motivating others to work hard, to succeed, and to love life while doing it. I am inspired to more often remember the best leaders are not those who say “here I am,” but those who say “there you are.” Thank you Community Resource Center for offering me an opportunity to actualize the kind of leadership of which I can be proud and reflects my values!

The program fills quickly so apply now if you are interested! For more information, please visit or call Carol Crawford at 303.623.1540 x13.

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